A website from the Massachusetts Historical Society; founded 1791.

Refreshment Room


The antislavery speakers are dedicated, and their words are powerful and moving. But speakers need audiences, and they need money. Behind the scenes, hard work goes on to bring people to antislavery meetings and raise funds from them - a less visible component of the cause but an essential one.


Selection from the Massachusetts Historical Society: Ticket to the Anti-Slavery Refreshment Room, 1855.
Selection from the Library of Congress: Treasurer's report, Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society. Boston, 1839.

Questions to Consider


  1. What is a Treasurer's Report? Who is the Treasurer of the Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society, and what is his role? Who audits the report, and what does an auditor do? (Hint: this works the same way today as it did in 1839!)
  2. Make a list of all the things you can learn from looking at this ticket.


  1. What are the payments that go out from the Society? What are the main expenses, and what are they for? What can we learn about the activities of the organization from this document?
  2. List two reasons why an antislavery society would have a refreshment room and how that would help the organization reach its goal.


  1. What is the purpose of circulating the details of how much money was raised and spent and how this fundraising was accomplished?
  2. What is the purpose of having a ticket printed for this activity? Why does this ticket still exist? What might be the reason for it being saved?


  1. Study the details of how money is coming in to the antislavery society. Take on the role of treasurer of this Society and summarize all the fund-raising methods and activities listed in this document in a five minute oral report to the members. Be sure to include various ways in which individuals, town committees, and special events support the work of the Society.
  2. Write an invitation or broadside that encourages people to buy these tickets.


You are the curator of an exhibit about the antislavery movement, and you want to include these two documents in their own special case. Do the following:
  1. Write an overall introduction to the two documents (no more than 150 words) that gives visitors a bit of background and explains why the documents belong together in this case.
  2. Write a label for each of the documents that explains succinctly its purpose in no more than two sentences.
  3. You have a bit of room left in the case. Now, do two things:
    a.) choose five line items from the original Treasurer's Report to copy and blow up so that people can see the entries; explain why you picked each of those items - what does it illustrate about the work of the movement?
    b.) describe an image or an artifact that you might look for that would help visitors to imagine the times in which the two documents were created.